I dream of making jewelry that is so near to being feminine that you wear it all the time, you live with it on. [People should] have things that touch their hearts, and have them for decades.

Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe

Infinite Adornment

The Modernist Jewelry of Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe

Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe (often known, simply, as Torun), was one of the first woman silversmiths to rise to prominence in the 20th century. In a life filled with decisions that Torun described as "reckless," (she capriciously followed her whims, which lead her from her native Sweden to Germany, Paris, and Jakarta, among other locales), she remained committed to her practice of coaxing sterling silver into sensual, sculptural forms that continue to resonate as timeless works of the modernist spirit.

Torun with singer and activist Abbey Lincoln, 1962. While living in Paris with her husband, African American painter Walter Coleman, Torun became involved in the jazz scene and a supporter of the Black is Beautiful movement, creating jewelry pieces for musicians such as Billie Holiday.

Nicholas Manville, senior vice-president of design at Georg Jensen, which Torun began designing for in the 1960s, regards her works as jewelry "a woman would buy for herself, more than a man would buy for a woman." Instead of flashy show pieces bedecked with precious stones, which were fashionable during the decadent 1970s when Torun was at the height of her career, she created organic, minimalist pieces with sterling silver. An early influence that brought about these delicate forms was Torun's childhood love of ice skating: "When I work with silver I perceive within my whole being the curves, the turns, like when my skates were tracing precise and slow figures on the ice."

Torun wearing one of her designs; Torun and Picasso

She also used common stones such as quartz, granite and pebbles (she famously met Picasso, by chance, while wandering a beach in Paris, collecting stones). Necklaces are made to complement the elegant curve of a collarbone, moonstones float from earrings constructed of thin, nearly imperceptible silver wire and large unpolished quartz stones rest in the shallow depression of one's back, like a protective amulet. 

To Torun, her jewelry "symbolizes the vibrations of life, infinity, heavenly creation." While modernist in its execution, Torun's work is tied to our most ancient and primal impulses to beautify and embellish the body using the natural materials and forms we encounter in our environments.

Torun in her studio

I think she started ahead of the curve, which helps one to become timeless. She made jewellery for the wearer – it was for those with an eye for fine art sculpture. Essentially, that’s what she made.

Nicholas Manville, senior vice president of design at Georg Jensen